McLaren: Bitter constitutional politics hold farmers back

Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesperson Claire McLaren has today called for greater collaboration between farming ministers north and south of the border, warning that bitter constitutional squabbles hold farmers back.

On a visit to the Royal Highland Show last week, Cllr McLaren met with farming representatives to discuss issues including agricultural disputes between the Scottish and UK governments, the adverse impact of the Ukraine war and Brexit. These have led to spiralling costs of food, fuel and fertiliser.

Post Brexit, the UK government is responsible for the administration of 91% of agricultural payments to Scottish farmers. Ms McLaren is now encouraging the Scottish Government and UK farming ministers to work with each other more closely and deliver support for farmers at this difficult time.

Ms McLaren said:

“Having lived my entire life at the heart of the agricultural community, I know that this is an industry which is balancing on a cliff edge.  

“In my discussions with Scottish farmers over the past few weeks, it is clear to me that many of them are already reducing stock numbers over concerns around the cost of feeding. This has the potential to harm food supply and jeopardize the flow of quality Scottish food.

“Brexit and the war in Ukraine have exposed supply chain vulnerabilities, highlighting the need for stronger food security provisions.  

“Nicola Sturgeon used last week’s Highland Show to make the bizarre claim that breaking up the UK would aid Scottish farming. Instead, that would put fresh barriers between Scottish produce and markets across the rest of the UK.

“Both Scottish and UK governments need to focus their efforts on getting farmers help right now. Farming communities have been let down by two governing parties which relish in bickering, rather than collaborating.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats will continue to press for robust and realistic policies that will deliver vital support for farming communities across Scotland, such as an immediate reduction in fuel duty and prioritising food security when formulating agricultural policy.

“Scottish and UK ministers must put an end to their bitter constitutional squabbling and back British farmers.”

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